Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Doom Mongers 

There seems to be an unending supply of scientists and thinkers who predict disaster for the earth and its occupants. Here is another one. The problem is that time and again they have been proven wrong. The industry of mankind and adaptation of the planet have successfully bypassed limits set by each group of thinkers.

This intellectual pessimism has been an issue in PR for my career and long before. After all, it was Malthus who in 1798 assured the world that it could not hold but a fraction of the population that it has today. When I started in PR, predictions from the Club of Rome were popular but the world has blown by those too.

I don't wish to be a naive optimist, but the science of prediction hasn't yet proved that it can mathematically foretell the future of anything from the weather to the stock market. There are too many variables and the intelligence of humans to encompass. We have clients today who are planning for how the world is going to support a population far larger than it has now. They are inventing the technologies for food and fuel, and those technologies are being implemented.

Will it all end at some point? Sure. But we don't know where, when or how. The world since its birth as a great dust ball has changed more times than we know. It will change again. Global warming is impacting how we live and how we think about the world around us. Will we survive it? Who knows? Surely the scientists don't.

Malthus never said that the earth had reached it's maximum human population at that time, so the population growth that has occured in the intervening 200+ years neither proves nor disproves anything. The alegation that Malthus has been disproven is one of the many myths that have grown up around the population issue.

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